Best Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches for 2018

June 14, 2018

5:25 am

Want some smart tech for your wrist? These are the best new and innovative smartwatches and fitness trackers you’ll be able to buy this year – from budget-yet-brilliant models like the Xiaomi MiBand 3 to hardcore sports watches like the Suunto 9.

Most companies are embellishing their new wearables with in-depth health and expanded sports tracking capabilities – regardless of whether they’re fitness trackers, smartwatches or multisports watches. Lots of brands are also trying to undercut their competitors, and we’re finally seeing some serious price drops in the wearables space.

But which wearable is right for you? We round up the latest innovations in wearables for 2018 to make sure you buy the right band for your wrist.

Apple Watch Series 4

What is it?

Apple watch series 4 - tech.coThe latest version of Apple’s smartwatch range, the Apple Watch Series 4 was announced on the 12th September 2018. The Apple Watch has been the best selling smartwatch range on the market to date, and with good reason.

What makes it different?

The Series 4 has had a serious overhaul from previous models. Among its new features is a better heart rate monitor, which is able to detect when the users heart rate is too low and monitor it for potential health issues. The ace up its sleeve, however, is its electrocardiogram (ECG). Again, this can be a good way to monitor heart issues, and the results can be shared with your doctor.

It’s not just improvements to the health aspects that Apple has focused on, though. The speaker is now 50% louder, which should make it easier to understand in noisy places, such as in public. The black ceramic rear of the watch also improves reception over previous models.

The screen has been stretched to the corners of the face, with a 30% increase in size which doesn’t alter the physical size of the watch.

For fitness-mad swimmers, the Apple is ‘swim proof’, but not totally water proof. This means its fine for a quick dip, but wouldn’t be much use to any Jacques Cousteaus out there.

Find out more about the Apple Watch Series 4 reveal

Pros

  • Big, bright screen
  • Loads of features
  • Seamless integration with iPhones
  • Slim, stylish design

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Only works with iPhones
  • Some might not like the square design

Garmin Vivosmart 4

What is it?Garmin Vivosmart 4

A new wearable from Garmin that isn’t really a fitness tracker. Instead, the Vivosmart 4 sees itself as more of a health tracker. It looks to give users a more rounded picture of their overall health, rather than recording performance in specific sports or tracking the number of steps you’ve taken, for example. It costs $129.99 and is available in two sizes.

What makes it different?

By seeking to take a rounded view of your health, the Garmin Vivosmart 4 has a couple of pretty unique features. For example, rather than simply tracking your heart rate, the Vivosmart 4 can measure your blood oxygen level. This shows how quickly your body can absorb oxygen and will give you a better view of your overall health than simply tracking the difference between resting and active heart rates. You can even measure your blood oxygen level overnight to check on your sleep quality. It also offers regular 24/7 heart rate tracking, as well.

Another unique feature to the Vivosmart 4 is ‘Body Battery’ – basically your energy levels. According to Garmin, your body battery score will give you an indication of the optimal times for rest and exercise. The Vivosmart 4 calculates your energy levels by assessing your stress levels, heart rate variability, sleep and activity data. It also tracks this data over time and should help you understand how your actions have affected you.

However, the Vivosmart 4 does lose out in some areas. For example, it doesn’t have GPS and won’t connect to your phone’s GPS, either, so it might not be ideal for outdoor athletes looking for lots of information on their recent exercise.

Pros

  • Unique health tracking features
  • Slim profile makes it easy to wear 
  • 7-day battery life

Cons

  • No GPS or connected GPS
  • Doesn’t track a huge variety of sports

Fitbit Charge 3

What is it? Fitbit Charge 3 Best Wearables 2018

The latest fitness tracker to roll off Fitbit’s production line. It’ll start from $149.95, and while it’s available to pre-order now from Fitbit, the device won’t actually be released until October – just in time for Christmas.

Like all of Fitbit’s wearables, it’ll track your activity and exercise throughout the day, but it’ll also track your wellbeing more generally to give you an all-encompassing picture of your health. It’ll automatically detect when you’ve gone to sleep, for example, and women will be able to use it to help with their menstrual cycle. The Charge 3 will be able to track 15 sports – including cycling, yoga and circuit training – and it’ll automatically detect when you start running, swimming or have a go on the elliptical machine.

What makes it different?

It’s the first Fitbit tracker designed to really take the fight to smartwatches – including the Californian brand’s own Versa smartwatch (more on that below). As such, it packs in a seven-day battery life, NFC payments, advanced notifications and the ability to quick reply to these notifications.

Pros

  • NFC payments, improved notifications and quick replies are normally reserved for smartwatches
  • Tracks a wide range of sports
  • Swimproof

Cons

  • Quite expensive for a fitness tracker
  • A little bit chunky

Samsung Galaxy Watch

What is it? Samsung Galaxy Watch Best Wearables 2018

Samsung’s latest smartwatch. It still runs the Korean company’s proprietary OS, Tizen, rather than adopting Google’s new-and-improved WearOS, but promises to be just as smart as other smartwatches on sale. It’ll set you back $329.99 for the 42mm version and $349.99 for the 46mm version.

You’ll be able to play songs from Spotify without having to carry your phone around with you, and you’ll get an excellent four-day battery life. Samsung also claims to have made some major improvements to its Samsung Health platform, which should help you keep track of your activity with ease.

What makes it different?

Apart from its unique Tizen operating system, the Galaxy Watch is one of the few wearables with a traditional circular screen that actually works. There’s no ugly deflated tyre sitting at the bottom of the screen, as with some older Android Wear watches, and you’ll be able to take advantage of its excellent rotating bezel – which makes operating the Galaxy Watch a doddle.

Pros

  • Sharp, circular OLED screen
  • Rotating bezel is a joy to use
  • Cheaper than Apple Watch

Cons

  • Fairly large and chunky
  • Tizen OS means that it isn’t quite as slick with Android phones as WearOS devices

Xiaomi MiBand 3

What is it?Xiaomi MiBand 3

The Xiaomi MiBand 3 is a bargain fitness tracker, which should set you back about $30 when it goes on sale. Yep, just $30.

For this price, you’ll get a slim, lightweight fitness tracker with a small OLED panel which should track all your steps, active minutes, and your sleep duration. It’s also got a heart-rate monitor, and you should be able to track cycling and running as well. The MiBand 3 is waterproof, but whether it’ll track swimming metrics is unclear.

What makes it different?

Did you miss the price? There’s literally no other wearable that offers such a wide gamut of features for such a low price.

While it’s not necessarily innovative in the features it offers, for Xiaomi to fit an OLED screen, a heart rate monitor, and near field communication (NFC) into a fitness tracker that costs around $30 is genuinely remarkable. At the moment, there’s no news on when the MiBand 3 will go on sale outside of China, but we’ll update you as soon as we know.

Pros

  • It’s so incredibly cheap
  • OLED screen
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Can be tricky to get hold of outside Asia
  • Unlikely to be the most accurate tracker out there

Asus VivoWatch BP

What is it?

Asus VivoWatch BP

A new health-tracking wearable from Asus, launched at its Computex show. Asus made it quite clear that the VivoWatch BP wasn’t a fitness tracker or a smartwatch, but was instead a health-tracking device.

What makes it different?

It’s the first wearable to monitor the user’s blood pressure, and this is big news: According to Asus, there are 9.4 million deaths around the world every year due to high blood pressure or complications from high blood pressure. The company wants this watch to save lives.

The VivoWatch BP tracks blood pressure by taking readings from the user’s finger on a metal plate on the face of the watch. This does mean the VivoWatch BP has to sacrifice some screen size to accommodate the metal sensor, but if this watch might save your life, most consumers would be willing to compromise.

As well as blood pressure monitoring, the VivoWatch BP will also keep track of your heart rate, sleep quality, and basic activity data – plus its de-stress index should help you, well, “de-stress”. You can expect a 28-day battery life from the VivoWatch BP; there’s no word on availability, or pricing, but it’s likely to arrive before the end of 2018.

Sadly, the Asus VivoWatch BP isn’t available yet

Pros

  • Unique blood pressure monitoring
  • Long battery life
  • Might genuinely help to save lives

Cons

  • Not available just yet
  • Isn’t particularly stylish

Suunto 9

What is it?

Suunto 9

The latest in Suunto’s long line of bulky, expensive, hardcore multisport watches. It can track over 80 different sports, it’s water-resistant to 100m, and throws in a barometer just for good measure. If you take your sports seriously – and we mean sports, plural – the Suunto 9 might be a great companion for you. You’ll need to have some deep pockets as well, the Suunto 9 will set you back $599.

What makes it different?

Battery life is always a chief complaint among watches like this. After all, tracking your heart rate, GPS, the weather and whatever sport you’re actually taking part in is tricky.

With this in mind, Suunto has created three different battery modes which allow you to track your exercise without limiting the core functions you need. These changes should allow you up to 120 hours of recording time with GPS.

If that sounds like overkill, it shouldn’t. Suunto is pitching the 9 at off-road triathletes and other hardcore athletes. This isn’t a watch for tracking trips to the store or 3-mile runs at lunch.

Pros

  • Tracks loads of sports
  • Waterproof to 100m 
  • Very accurate

Cons

  • Hugely expensive
  • Big, chunky, diving watch inspired design

Fitbit Versa

What is it?

Fitbit Versa

A proper smartwatch, at long last, from fitness-band maestro Fitbit. It’s proven popular, too: The San Fran-based company has managed to ship over a million Versas since it went on sale in April.

What makes it different?

For a start, it’s cheaper than its Apple Watch competition, priced at $199.95 rather than the $329. The Versa also has a pretty impressive four-day battery life, is good for sports and sleep tracking, including swim tracking, and has GPS and NFC.

The Versa can also be synced up with Fitbit’s innovative Female Health tracking. This new feature to the Fitbit ecosystem has already attracted over 2.4 million users, and can be used to track a user’s menstrual cycle to help women understand their bodies.

Read more about new gear and gadgets on TechCo

Pros

  • Combines smartwatch features with Fitbit’s great health tracking platform
  • Undercuts the Apple Watch by $200

Cons

  • Lacks some key apps
  • Square design might not be to everyone’s taste
  • Can be a bit confusing to use

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Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.Co covering everything from website builders to mobile phones. He also loves soccer, probably too much.

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